Bartleby is back, though he’d probably rather not be. This time, Herman Melville’s reluctant scrivener on Wall Street has returned in the form of TikTokers who have embraced the “quietly quit.”
Rather than working late Friday nights, organizing the annual team-building trip to Slough, or volunteering to supervise the boss’ teenage intern, quiet dropouts avoid what’s happening above and below. Beyond that is the hustle culture mentality or what psychologists call “professional experience.” civic behavior.
Instead, they do just enough in the office to keep up, then leave work on time and turn off Slack. Then talk about it on social media.
Maria Kordowicz, associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Nottingham and director of its Center for Interprofessional Education and Learning, said increased silent abandonment is linked to a noticeable drop in job satisfaction. .
Gallup Global Workplace Report 2022 showed that only 9% of workers in the UK were engaged or enthusiastic about their work, ranking 33rd out of 38 European countries. The NHS Staff Survey, conducted in autumn 2021, showed morale fell from 6.1 in 10 to 5.8 and staff engagement fell from 7.0 to 6.8.
“Since the pandemic, people’s relationship to work has been studied in many ways, and the literature generally, across all professions, would argue that, yes, how people relate to their work has changed,” said Kordowicz.
TikTok posts on silent weaning may have been inspired by Chinese social media: #TangPingor lying flat, is a now censored hashtag apparently driven by China’s dwindling workforce and long-hours culture.
Kordowicz added, “The search for meaning became much more apparent. There was a sense of our own mortality during the pandemic, something quite existential about people thinking, “What should work mean to me? How can I play a role more aligned with my values? »
“I think it has to do with the elements of silent abandonment that are perhaps more negative: mentally quitting a job, being exhausted from the volume of work and the lack of work-life balance that have hit many of us during the pandemic.
“But I think it can lead to less job satisfaction, less enthusiasm, less commitment. So you could juxtapose ‘quiet stop’ with ‘great resignation.’ we stay put but we go out or are we going to something?
The term “big quit” was coined in May 2021 by Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at University College London, when he predicted an exodus of American workers from their jobs, driven by burnout, and the taste of freedom while working from home.
Instead, Ranjay Gulati of Harvard Business School called it a “big rethink,” where people assess their lives and their options: people like Natalie Ormond. “I quit my 14-year career in social work last September,” she said. “I wasn’t pushed to move up the ladder and felt like I was coasting – I wasn’t doing the bare minimum, but just doing my job and not going above and beyond.”
Ormond decided to start his own business, Smallkind, selling eco-friendly children’s toys and clothing, and kept his day job to accumulate savings. “Towards the end, I felt like I had mentally checked out, which came with some guilt.” She was concerned about the people she helped as a social worker, so she left early.
Others achieved their ambition and realized that was not what they were looking for.
Amie Jones started her career in marketing and became a communications manager at a nonprofit in 2017. “It was my dream job,” she said. “It seems strange to say that now. But I wanted this job, the status, the salary. I was up for giving him a real boost. She continued to take phone calls on weekends, on vacation, at 10:30 p.m. at night, showing up early and leaving late to follow her colleagues.
“It was all driven by me,” she said, until her best friend from college told her she was down to three days a week. “It’s terrible, but I was a little judgmental about it,” Jones said. “We were supposed to climb the corporate ladder together. But she said ‘My occupation is not equal to my worth.’ And it blew me away. Within 18 months, Jones had quit to start his Kind Kids Book Club business.
Perhaps “quiet surrender” has been brewing for some time – after all, Melville imagined Bartleby in 1853, and even the Bible says God needed a break on the seventh day. More recently, tech companies have capitalized on the backlash against the Gordon Gekko-inspired long-hours culture of the 1980s by creating more laid-back work environments with brightly colored desks, free food and drink, and hipster swag. company, wrapped in the rhetoric of mission and purpose.
However, this may hide other problems. Dan Lyons, a former tech journalist, ridiculed his brief stint working for HubSpot, which calls itself an inbound marketing company creating valuable content but which Lyons described as a “digital sweatshop” in his book. Disturbed.
“If you are committed to your career and feel an emotional connection to the organization or the career, then if an event occurs that violates the psychological contract, the unwritten expectations, that abuses our sense of whether we can trust the organization,” said Dr Ashley Weinberg, an occupational psychologist at the University of Salford.
Enlightened companies design jobs that give employees control, pride in their work, and fair pay, but these efforts are undermined by the cost of living crisis, and workers end up feeling cheated. “People talk about money, and that’s important,” Weinberg said, “but beyond that, they want to be respected for what they do and valued in some way.”